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She’ll be right, mate

NetChoice went back to Australia this week, carrying our crusade against emerging threats to e-commerce.

But Australia’s in the early stage when it comes to locally-based online businesses, so the e-commerce sector hasn’t drawn much fire from bricks-and-mortar retailers, auctioneers, real estate brokers, optometrists, etc. ( It’s a welcome contrast to the situation in the US and Europe, where traditional retailers say e-commerce causes everything from crime to urban decay. )

So I was half expecting Aussie businesses and media to dismiss my concerns with a broad smile and “No worries,” or “She’ll be right, mate”. But the online sellers I met there are keenly aware of challenges threatening their online businesses.

First, they realize that many consumers are tentative about buying online, given global threats like phishing and credit card fraud. So they are ready to embrace measures to improve trust and confidence, including the use of safer payment methods and customer satisfaction guarantees.

A second challenge facing Australia’s online retailers is getting supply of the goods Australians want to buy. Even the #1 online department store (, often encounters manufacturers and distributors who refuse to sell to online outlets, for fear of retaliation from their legacy brick-and-mortar channel.

Finally, Australia’s online retailers are often harassed and intimidated by competing retailers who want to prevent them from selling – at big discounts – items they carry. One fast-growing online retailer in Sydney receives regular legal notices accusing them of selling fake items, or of lacking authorization to carry a name brand item. And it won’t be long before traditional retailers are accusing e-commerce of causing a rise in theft from their stores, an accusation that’s been made repeatedly in the states.

Fortunately, Australian entrepreneurs are made of sterner stuff. Rising stars like Dinosaur Deals are facing these challenges head-on, without asking for help from the authorities or attention from the media. All they really need is for government to avoid helping traditional retailers put artificial barriers in their way.

So that’s the message we took to government in Canberra and to multiple reporters last week, where we generated interest from regulators, lawmakers, the media, and IT trade associations. Australians like their e-commerce and they’re up for promoting and protecting it.

Our task now is grow membership of NetChoice Australia, and we invite all who have an interest in e-commerce to join the cause and help make sure “she’ll be right, mate”.


Steve DelBianco

NetChoice executive director